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oil on canvas mounted on board 6" x 6"

I love the shape of all pears, but especially this one with its chunky bottom.
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oil on canvas mounted on board 8" x 6"

I'm running a summer painting group, where we try out a new challenge each week. The idea is to try something a little different- a new technique or subject matter that we aren't quite comfortable using yet. 

This week's challenge was to paint on black gesso. I found the process intriguing. It felt more like using pastel than paint, because the lights stand out so beautifully against the dark surface, but the paint had to be built up thickly to really cover the black. 

I enjoyed keeping the shadow areas large simple shapes, and letting the black peep through here and there. 


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oil on board 8" x 6"
purchase

I still have my mind on this guy. My first portrait of him was a profile view, and I wanted to try painting his full face. I like his expression here, which I interpret as a mixture of caution and intelligence. 

When I paint a portrait, getting a likeness that satisfies me usually doesn't happen until the final day. There is lots of fussing over the mouth and eyes, but overall I may spend more time on the non-features, like the folds of skin under the eyes, and the shape of the forehead, cheeks and chin. That's where the real likeness is found. 

My recipe for painting a portrait from an image:

1. Paint simultaneously from a color image and a black-and-white version to get both the colors and values right.

2. Paint the entire thing upside down, but frequently turn it right-side up to check results frequently.

3. Paint the details, then when you get tired of them and the painting seems to be going nowhere, move your easel back 12 feet from the images and paint from that distance. It's help pull the portrait together, and the main large shapes will be more apparent. 
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oil on canvas mounted on board 8"x 8"

This was a tough one. The still life was lit with such a strong spotlight that I needed to keep the shadows fairly dark in order to show their strong contrast with the brilliantly lit areas. As always, I never seem to feel sure as to how much detail I want to include. Sometimes lots of detail helps a painting be strong, sometimes it hurts! 
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charcoal and conte crayon 12" x 9"

I love working in charcoal, but sometimes feel like I'm fighting against the old-timey look that seems part of the medium. I ended up using a whole lot of white crayon, which was enjoyable. 
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oil on board 6" x 8"

There's a bit of a backstory to this portrait. In 2012 I painted a portrait of President Barack Obama. In 2016, shortly after Donald Trump won the election, someone challenged me to paint Trump, not hatefully or sarcastically, but "showing his humanity". 

I have spent hours pouring over available images of Trump, trying to choose one that I'd find revealing of his innermost self, without seeming to be an easy "hit piece". I started two paintings of him and abandoned them both. I may try again. 

But in the meantime, I kept thinking of Attorney Robert Mueller, and how much I was dying to paint him- and so it goes. The heart wants what it wants (an Emily Dickinson quote).
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oil on canvas mounted on board 8" x 8"

This is the third in my little series of "Balance" paintings, each focusing on a different color. The first, "Yellow Balance", came easily and quickly. The second, "Blue Balance" took much longer. This one took the longest- I found purple a much harder color to work with. 

Saying that, I'm not sure why how long a painting takes should be such a concern of mine. A painting takes as long as it takes. 

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oil on canvas mounted on board 8"x 8"

Here is a composition with mainly blue tones, with just a bit of warmth provided by the flower. My challenge was to create a painting with a focus on one color, without it suffering from that limitation. 
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oil on prepared paper 8"x 8"
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This is the first of several studies I'm going to paint with a single color as the main theme. It's a prep for an upcoming class with each week focusing on a different color. 

I always find yellow a challenge. Cool yellows must not look too green, and yellow in deep shadow is so hard to get just right.
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oil on paper mounted on board 8"x 8"
link to auction

I painted this shell using the Zorn Palette (just white, black, yellow ocher and cadmium red), but changed my mind about the background. I wanted the green to be intense, as to contrast with the subtle colors of the shell, so went outside of the (Zorn) box.
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